An Invitation To See The Faces Of People Who Are Unhoused: Michelle

black and white portrait of woman wearing a toque, scarf and warm coat
Michelle photo by Steve McKenzie is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed

Meet Michelle. can make this introduction thanks to the fine work of Steve McKenzie, a portrait photographer. Steve’s portraits come with notes:

‘Michelle was on Wacker, near Madison Street. She was friendly and said she was a struggling addict. She was going to the hospital to have a wound on her arm treated as a result. She said she’s had a rough life–“you can’t put your guard down”, she said.

She wants to go to school to become a office assistant or a social worker, to help people who are in the same position as her. At the moment, she and her boyfriend sleep on East Lower Wacker. While we were talking, Gene, another homeless gentleman approached and said he was having a bad day. Michelle told him, “Keep your head up!”‘ was inspired to share Steve’s portraits after reading a commentary by Jennifer Gerlach in Psychology Today1. Ms Gerlach encourages us to experience the humanity that is so obvious in the faces of people who are unhoused. Steve’s portraits give us all an opportunity to follow Jennifer Gerlach’s invitation.


  1. You can read Jennifer Gerlach’s commentary here: A Person With a Face, Unhoused on a Cold Winter Night